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FEC, Marijuana, Eurobond dominate news (Video)

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The Federal Executive Council (FEC) has approved that 2.9 billion Dollars in Eurobond be raised to fund capital projects in the 2018 budget.

The Minister of Finance, Mrs Zainab Ahmed, made this known when she addressed State House correspondents at the end of FEC meeting, presided over by President Muhammadu Buhari.

Nigeria had, in November 2017, raised three billion Dollars in a two-part international bond sale to fund part of the 2017 budget and to refinance maturing local-currency bonds.

The nation had, in February, also raised 2.5 billion dollars in Euro-bond.

The minister said: “Today in the Federal Executive Council, we got approval for the issuance of 2.9 billion Dollars in Eurobond and other securities from the international capital market.

“The purpose of this approval is to enable us to implement the external borrowing plan of N849.673 billion, equivalent to 2.786 billion Dollars, which is provided for in the 2018 appropriation act and this is to fund capital projects in the 2018 budget.’’

She disclosed that the council also approved that 82.5 billion Dollars be raised to bridge the shortfall of the 500 million Dollars Eurobond that matured on July 12, 2018.

The minister added that another 60 million Dollars combination of loan and grant had been approved for empowerment programme in Niger Delta area of the country.

According to her, the programme will be implemented in Abia, Akwa Ibom, Bayelsa, Cross River, Delta, Imo, Ondo, Edo and Rivers states.

She revealed that the council also approved N374 million for the creation of six advisory groups that would serve as technical advisers on communication and legal advisers.

Ahmed said the council approved another N187.4 million for the purchase of 600 bulletproof vests for the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) to fight illegal importation of rice.

On implementation of the 2018 budget, she disclosed that N460billion had, so far, been released for this year’s capital projects.

The meeting had in attendance the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Mr Boss Mustapha, the Head of Service, Mrs Winfred Oyo-Ita; Chief of Staff to the President, Malam Abba Kyari; cabinet ministers and some presidential aides.


Simba Group of Companies, an Indian organisation, has called on the Federal Government and private organisations to employ women monthly, to bridge the gap of gender inequality.

Mr Manish Rohtagi, the company’s Business Head, made the call in Abuja, while commemorating the International Day of the Girl-Child, organised by the National Centre for Women Development.

Rohtagi said the company, in the spirit of supporting the girl child, had empowered over a hundred women in Lagos with tricycles to help them generate income.

“To mark the day, we are also donating bicycles to ease the burden of transportation on school girls, because if a girl has one, she will go to school every day,’’ he said.

Similarly, Hajiya Salamatu Baiwa, the All Progressives Congress Party Women Leader, advised young girls on the need for education, stating that it would open them to a world of opportunities and greatness.

She made reference to the 5 Nigerian teenage girls who won a global tech. competition in Silicon Valley for inventing an app that detects fake drugs.

“We must protect the welfare of our female children, educate them to the highest capacity of their choice and ensure that they are not stereotyped and given bias positions in the work place.

“Many girls have achieved great things despite the odds. So, remain resilient and driven,’’ she advised.

For her part, the Director General, National Centre for Women Development Mrs Mary Ekpere-Eta, appealed to spirited individuals and organisations to step up efforts to educate and empower the girl-child.

“International Day of the Girl-Child is also a day set aside to look into all the challenges faced by young girls and gives an opportunity to dialogue and find solutions to all such problems.

“We are going to deliberate and educate the young girls on various aspects, especially financial emancipation.

“It is very necessary and important that the girl child, at this age, gets started in economic development; if we catch them young, we are sure of a brighter future for them,’’ she said.


Ibori loses appeal against UK graft conviction

James Ibori, a former governor of Delta State in Southern Nigeria who was jailed in Britain for laundering tens of millions of dollars in stolen public funds through British banks and properties, has lost an appeal against his conviction in London.

Ibori was governor of oil-producing Delta State in Southern Nigeria for eight years.

He had pleaded guilty in a London court in 2012 to a 10-count charge of fraud and money-laundering, involving sums amounting to at least 50 million pounds ($66 million).

Ibori received a 13-year jail sentence of which he served half, as is common in the British system.

The former governor, who is now back in Nigeria, appealed against his conviction, alleging misconduct by British Police and prosecutors, which he argued, tainted the judicial process.


Nearly a century of marijuana prohibition has come to an end as Canada becomes the first Western nation to legalise and regulate its sale and recreational use.

The change was praised by pot enthusiasts and investors in a budding industry that has seen pot stocks soar on the Toronto and New York stock exchanges, but sharply questioned by some health professionals and opposition politicians.

“We’re not legalising cannabis because we think it’s good for our health; we’re doing it because we know it’s not good for our children,” Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said on the eve of the reform.

“We know we need to do a better job to protect our children and to eliminate or massively reduce the profits that go to organised crime.”

The Cannabis Act, which fulfils a promise Trudeau made in the 2015 election campaign, makes Canada the second nation after Uruguay to legalise the drug.

Its implementation will be scrutinised and dissected by Canadians ahead of the next election in 2019, as well as other nations that the prime minister has said may follow suit if the measure proves a success.

Trudeau himself admitted in 2013 to having smoked pot five or six times in his life, including at a dinner party with friends after being elected to parliament.

He said that his late brother Michel was facing marijuana possession charges for a “tiny amount” of pot before his death in an avalanche in 1998.

He also said that this influenced his decision to propose legalising cannabis.

But Trudeau’s office told AFP he “does not plan on purchasing or consuming cannabis once it is legalised.”

In total, Statistics Canada says 5.4 million Canadians will buy cannabis from legal dispensaries in 2018, about 15 per cent of the population, while around 4.9 million already smoke it.

Under the new regulations, Canadians at least 18 or 19 years old (soon to be 21 in Quebec) will be allowed to buy up to 30 grams of cannabis and grow up to four plants at home.

A patchwork of private and public cannabis retail stores and online sales have been set up across the 13 provinces and territories, ramping up to 300 storefronts by year’s end, the government predicts.

This new industry has attracted billions in funding, as well as interest from alcohol and soft drink makers such as Constellation Brands and Coca-Cola, respectively, which have expressed an interest in developing cannabis infused drinks.

Cannabis sales are forecast to boost economic growth by up to 1.1 billion Canadian dollars and provide about 400 million Canadian dollar tax revenue windfall for the government, according to Statistics Canada.

Public health officials contend that smoking cannabis is as harmful as tobacco, but welcome what they call the opportunity that legalisation affords for open dialogue.

Some doctors, however, remain wary. Diane Kelsall, editor in chief of the Canadian Medical Association Journal, called the legalisation “a national, uncontrolled experiment in which the profits of cannabis producers and tax revenues are squarely pitched against the health of Canadians.”

Police, meanwhile, are scrambling to prepare for a predicted uptick in drug-impaired driving.

It’s unclear as yet if the new framework will succeed in undercutting the black market, as prices for illicit pot have plunged in the last year to an average of 6.79 Canadian dollars per gram.

Bill Blair, a former police chief in Toronto who is Trudeau’s point man for pot legalisation, remains optimistic.

According to a recent published Data poll, 70 per cent of Canadians accept or support the legalisation. (NAN)

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